- [S104] Cocke County, Tennessee, and its People, Cocke County Heritage Book Committee, (Walsworth Publishing, 1992), 153, 189, 238.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 29 Oct 2008.
Scholarship donation memorializes O'Neils
Duay O'Neil, right, is among those donating to the newly-established Leadership Scholarship, a project of the Cocke County Leadership Class of 2008. The scholarship, a class project, will serve older students who are returning to school. O'Neil, a member of the class, made the donation in memory of his parents, the late William Gray and Maude (Sisk) O'Neil, longtime community activists. At left is Leadership Class member Linda Wester. In the middle is Dr. Rich Lloyd, Cocke County Education Foundation chairman. The Foundation will oversee the scholarship. On Saturday, November 1, Leadership Class members will hold the first annual Cocke County Chili Cook-off at Newport City Park from 1-4 p.m. as a fundraiser for the project. Barry Scott and Second Wind will provide the music. Tickets may be purchased from class members or at the gate.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 6 May 2011.
O'Neil honored by East TN Historical Society
Duay O'Neil, right, received an Award of Excellence from the East Tennessee Historical Society this week. With him is Cherel Henderson, ETHS Director.
KNOXVILLE-Newport Plain Talk reporter and columnist Duay O'Neil was among those honored by the East Tennessee Historical Society on Tuesday evening for his work to preserve, promote, and interpret our region's history.
O'Neil received an East Tennessee Historical Society Award of Excellence, an honor given in recognition of excellence in a special project, such as a publication, building preservation, or special programming.
O'Neil accepted the award during ETHS's annual meeting in Knoxville.
In particular, he was recognized for his work compiling Sacred to the Memory, Cocke County TN, Cemetery Records, first, in 1972, with his cousin, the late Nancy Lampson O'Neil, and more recently, an expanded and updated collection published by Library Friends.
For more details, please see the latest edition of the Newport Plain Talk.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 14 May 2013.
'Smoky Mountain Homeplace' honored by ET Historical Society
The Newport Plain Talk's annual 'Smoky Mountain Homeplace' special edition has received a History in Media Award from the East Tennessee Historical Society last week. ET Historical Society Director Cherel Henderson, right, presented the award to Smoky Mountain Homeplace Editor Duay O'Neil, center, and Plain Talk Advertising Representative Vickie Mason, left.
KNOXVILLE-The Newport Plain Talk's annual special edition 'Smoky Mountain Homeplace' was honored by the East Tennessee Historical Society last week with a History in Media Award.
Smoky Mountain Homeplace Editor Duay O'Neil and NPT Advertising Representative Vickie Mason were in Knoxville to accept the award at the society's annual banquet last Tuesday.
In presenting the award, ET Historical Society Director Cherel Henderson said, "This edition is a valuable contribution to the preservation of the region's history. Duay's thorough research, interviews with local folks, and rare photographs attract a huge following, making this one of the paper's most popular features."
This year's award was based on the paper's 2012 edition "Heaven's Jubilee," a collection of over 80 church histories and accompanying photographs and the 2011 edition "Broken Lives in a Broken County," a study of the Civil War's effects on Cocke County's citizens.
"I am deeply honored by the society's recognition of our work," said O'Neil. "We work on this for several months each year, and the whole staff gets excited about it. Without the dedication of our advertising department and support of our advertisers, this edition would not be possible.
"Special commendation must also go to our ad designers and especially to Tina Pierson, who oversees the issues design and layout. They are true artists."
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 11 Oct 2013.
As It Was Give To Me: Bringing shame on the first grade
For several weeks, I’ve been working more and more on Smoky Mountain Homeplace, our yearly special edition filled with photos, stories, and essays about a portion of Cocke County’s history.
This year’s issue is scheduled to come out Thursday, October 24, so the pressure is mounting! Already I’ve received dozens of photos and information, plus many of you took advantage of our invitation to pen an essay in praise of a special teacher. All are wonderful and will be printed. We will notify the winners next week.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my own school days and some of the adventures I had.
In the mid-1950s, we had few neighbors and I had even fewer playmates. Except for the Austin clan, hardly anyone had children within walking distance. Runnion Addition, with all its families and youngsters, was still a dream.
For this reason, my mother insisted I enter “Coot’s Academy,” a kindergarten taught by Helen Wood in her home on Lincoln Avenue. She normally accepted children who were at least four years old, but preferably five. However, she also took four or five younger children who got to attend two years. I fell into the second category.
Because my birthday falls in November, I was only three years old when I first arrived on the scene. I already knew how to read, could recite all 95 Tennessee counties and tell their corresponding license tag number, and was pretty good when it came to naming all 48 states and their capitals. A Jeopardy contestant in the making.
But I didn’t know everything!
Somehow I was already aware that I was well over a year younger than most of the students, so I breezed through the door and announced, “I’m Duay O’Neil, and I’m five years old!”
Instantly our future Cocke County Historian Eddie Walker challenged me and said, “No, you’re not! You’re only three!” How he knew that I’ll never know. Remember those were the days before Ancestry.com.
Another memorable episode came the day Susie McMinn asked me if I wanted to go home with her after school and play.
Most of the students lived within walking distance of Mrs. Wood’s home, and I envied them their freedom. Andy Collins even “drove to school,” pedaling his tricycle from the Baptist Church parsonage.
So, when Susie, who lived just up the street from Mrs. Wood, issued the invitation, I took her up on it, not bothering to ask permission or tell anyone where I was going. However, an alert Melba Bailey, who was Mrs. Wood’s assistant, watched me leave and knew where I was. When my dad arrived to pick me up, of course I wasn’t there. At the time, Susie and I were exploring her attic, another wonder for me since our house didn’t have one. Suddenly Mrs. Bailey arrived, scolded and collected me, and actually whipped me as we returned to Mrs. Wood’s home.
After surviving two years at the Academy, I was more than ready to take on Newport Grammar School. In first grade, I was placed in the classroom of Iota Thornton, my father’s distant cousin.
For the most part the year passed by uneventfully. I did use my pair of children’s scissors to cut off nearly all my hair the week before pictures were taken.
And there was the time I learned never to offer more than the demanded information. After lunch, we were supposed to take a nap. For this purpose, each of us had a little throw rug upon which we stretched out and then, for the most part, wiggled for the next 30 minutes. I had never napped in my life, so such an idea was completely foreign to me. But I went along with the idea with no trouble until the day I decided to tickle Judy McMillan’s feet.
She lay in front of me and, of course, giggled out loud. Mrs. Thornton appeared immediately and demanded to know what was up. Judy sang like a canary, directing our teacher’s attention to me.
Mrs. Thornton then asked which hand I had used to tickle Judy, and like the truthful little fellow I was, I replied, “Both hands.”
My punishment? Mrs. Thornton used a wooden ruler to spank both hands.
It was during my first grade year that my mother had to under allergy tests at a Knoxville clinic. The word “allergic” seemed somewhat magical, and I practiced using it as often as I could.
And then came the day when green beans were served in the cafeteria.
It’s no secret that I abhor green beans, in any shape or form. I don’t care if they’re served in a casserole with onion rings on top, mixed in with a vegetable salad, or dipped in chocolate, I don’t like green beans.
But the cooks at NGS could have cared less.
On the fateful day, I inched forward in line ready to hand my metal tray to the first cook to beginning filling with my daily meal. When my tray was passed to Winona Stephenson, I saw that she had her spoon ready to serve up my allotment of green beans.
I really tried to be polite when I told her not to put any green beans on my tray.
“And just why not?” she demanded.
“Because I’m allergic them,” replied I.
As I recall, Mrs. Stephenson audibly huffed and then proceeded to dip not one, but two spoonfuls of the hated vegetable onto my tray.
Well, I did what any spoiled only child would do. I stuck my tongue out at her, took my tray, and moved on. By the time our class returned to our room, I had probably forgotten the matter, but needless to say NGS’s powers-that-be hadn’t.
Before long, Jenny Robinson, cafeteria manager, appeared at the door for a conference with Mrs. Thornton. Next I was called to testify, and I admitted to my action.
First I had to apologize to Mrs. Robinson. Not much trauma there.
Then I had to return to the cafeteria, where Mrs. Robinson lined up all the cafeteria workers—Mrs. Stephenson, Aurelia Clark, Effie Hightower, Helen Phillips, and others—for me to offer my apologies for being rude. No big deal. I wasn’t really sorry, but I could fake a pitiful look with the best of them.
But then I had to go to the office and confess my sins to Mr. Vinson, who stood at least 12 feet tall and had the bushiest eyebrows I’ve ever seen. Much like Oliver Twist daring to ask for a second serving, I looked up at him and apologized for my sin.
And then I had to stand in front of my class and once again apologize, this time for “bringing shame” to the first grade.
Today, such demands of punishment on the part of a school’s teachers and administration quite likely would result in a lawsuit wending its way to the highest court in the land. School counselors and psychologists would be called in, and angry parents would storm the Central Office.
But I can truthfully say I’ve never had to undergo any therapy related to this incident, nor did I refuse to return to school, speak to the cooks, or eat in the cafeteria. I survived the incident intact. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so goes the old saying.
But I never did eat those green beans!
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Name: Karen Kay Keener
Also Known As Name:
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 17 Mar 1979
Event Place: Cocke, Tennessee, United States
Spouse's Name: Jariel Duay (Unknown) O'Neil
Spouse's Also Known As Name:
Spouse's Name Prefix:
Spouse's Name Suffix: